Friday, October 29, 2010

Love and Worship

Psalm 48:9

“We pondered your love-in-action, God, waiting in your temple” The Message

“We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple” NRSV

This is a beautiful description of worship, pondering the steadfast love of God. I like how The Message describes steadfast love as “love-in-action”. It is tempting to think of God’s love as something abstract or removed from daily life. The simple fact is that God’s love is a constant force and action in life.
The cross is a historical event that echoes from the past through the present and it into eternity. The cross is just as current as our breath and just as relevant. The cross is God’s ultimate sign of love-in-action because it is at the cross that our brokenness meets our belovedness. If we take a long and honest look at our lives in light of the Ten Commandments we will quickly realize that we are sinful people or that we are broken people. We all are aware of how we have wounded our lives and the lives of others and so we are broken people who are as one author says “ a mass of contradictions”.
The fact of our brokenness can be cause for shame, despair and depression or they can be cause for thanksgiving and joy. It may sound odd that our sins can be a cause for joy but when our sins and brokenness take us to the foot of the cross we run right smack into the truth of our belovedness. St. Paul says that we are clothed with Christ through baptism (Galatians 3:27). Therefore our lives are now hidden with God in Christ, which means that we are God’s beloved people, the redemption of our lives is a sign of God’s steadfast love. The cross has transformed our shame into God’s glory and we are new people, driven by and destined for love. In the end God’s love in Christ is all we need for any and all things. It is the greatest power in the universe. God’s love is grace, mercy, forgiveness, strength, hope, peace and joy to name a few.
Notice that God is the subject, not us. It is God’s steadfast love and therefore our brokenness or failures or sins or whatever cannot stop this love in action. It is God’s will to be love-in-action and to show us steadfast love through Christ. Our very life flows from this love in action.
We come into the temple to ponder this love. We don’t come to worship to “get anything out of it” because we have already been given everything through Christ. We come to celebrate this love, to proclaim this love, to share this love. We sing of love, we love one another; we grow in our ability to integrate this love into our lives. In the end worship is about God and God’s love for us in Christ. The great joy and privilege of life is to know God’s love and to celebrate that love with others.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some thoughts on community

I am beginning to become more convinced that forming a spiritual growth community takes a strong commitment to a common spiritual practice(s) and to each other. This takes courage because it requires each member to take responsibility for their practice(s) and for their availability to the group; we can't come to consume. It asks each member to practice in season and out of season. To do things they may like and may not always like. Their commitment to a shared way of life is part of the powerful bond that joins them.

For example maybe a spiritual community practices the same morning or evening office, maybe they are reading some of the same scripture texts. Then when they come together they are sharing their journey, what is God is teaching them. This group is based on love for God and love for each other and begins to grow in availability and openness.

Hurry and Gratefulness

Hurry is one of the barriers to practicing gratefulness. When we are hurried we are not present in the now and gratefulness happens in the now. A large part of gratefulness is being aware of the gifts that are happening now. For example I can be aware of the gift of my fingers as I type, the computer that I am using and the ability to read and write. This whole post can be an act of gratefulness.

If our inner life is hurried then we blow right through things and miss the now. Notice I wrote that hurry in our inner life is the barrier. We can have a full schedule and meet many needs and demands without being hurried. We can learn to move through life centered and grateful with a still center. To do this we need to take time to sit, be still and experience what it is like to be centered and grounded in the Spirit's presence now. From this place we can then learn to expand this centered lifestyle into the other aspects of our life.

When you sit to pray, start with being aware of the gifts that are there such as your chair, couch, roof, clothes, etc... In your prayer give thanks for each, be silent then move towards any intercessions. Be silent again. Then say the Lords prayer and move on with you life and come back to gratefulness as often as you can, giving thanks to God throughout your day.

Peace be yours.